Houghton County spending $6.3M on roads in ’18

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Houghton County Road Engineer Kevin Harju discusses upcoming road projects at Tuesday's County Board meeting.

HOUGHTON — County road engineer Kevin Harju outlined upcoming road projects during a presentation at Tuesday’s Houghton County Board meeting.

The Houghton County Road Commission expects to spend about $6.3 million this year, down from $8.6 million in 2017.

The year-to-year amounts are primarily dependent on grants, Harju said.

As of Tuesday, the county was $200,000 over last year’s snow budget, putting its snow removal spending at about $2 million. Snow removal required 95,000 gallons of diesel fuel.

“If it snows 2 inches or a foot, the equipment still has to go,” he said.

The county has three federal aid projects this year, funded by the federal gas tax.

•Lake Avenue North will receive about 1.5 miles of resurfacing, for a cost of $362,000. Bacco Construction will handle the project.

•Pike Lake Road from North Laird Road, north 3,850 feet. Bacco is also doing that project.

“Most loggers in the timber industry know exactly where it is, because that’s where they bump their heads on the top of their truck,” he said.

•School Street in Calumet from U.S. 41 to the village line: D&D Construction submitted the winning bid for the project, which will cost about $470,000.

Much of the county’s money comes from the townships. The county received about $390,000 of the $175 million given to counties through the state’s Act 51 formula. The formula is less than twice the $225,000 required to pave a mile of road and is about the cost of a motor grader, of which the department has 10.

“We should probably be paving between 12 and 15 miles of road a year, on a 25-year life cycle,” Harju said. “We’re probably doing maybe three, sometimes four miles.”

The county has 850 miles of road, 350 of which are paved. For some paved, dead-end roads, when there are no funds available, the county will return it to gravel.

An additional $600 million from the state gas tax has already had effects locally, with the road commission’s revenue up about $800,000.

Another $600 million from the General Fund is supposed to begin next year.

“If it all works out, everything that the gas bill was meant to do passes, we’ll have approximately another $2.5 million in revenues, which would be very beneficial,” Harju said.

Harju said he would work with the 14 county townships next year on a local road program, in which the county would donate funds.

Bids will open in April for dust control, for which the townships will receive notice.